Access Technology Blog

Welcome to our Access Technology Blog section! The NFB Jernigan Institute Access Technology team is always on the lookout for new and better ways to give blind people access to technology, as the ever-growing International Braille and Technology Center attests. In these tips we want to share some of the pointers manufacturers and developers share with us to help you learn about new applications and new programs, and to help you find new functionality in familiar products. The Access Technology team works with the relevant manufacturers and developers to obtain the tips listed here, to make sure that you get the best and latest about anything new in the world of non-visual access technology.


If you have any feedback please contact Clara Van Gerven at

Microsoft Surface RT

Blog Date: 
Monday, November 5, 2012

By Amy Mason and Clara Van Gerven


So we decided it was time to try something new in the world of the Access Technology Blog.  That’s why, when we got our newest shiny in the mail we decided to do an official Unboxing Video.  The video really hits the highlights of our first impressions of the device, and gives you a glimpse at both the technology, and the people behind the blog, so we hope that you will give it a watch, but in case you are short on time, or just want a quick glance at the talking points and the highlights, we have a handy list of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the new Microsoft Surface RT, but first…

In-flight wi-fi

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

by Scott Davert


In 2010, when I took a 3 hour flight from Detroit to Denver, I was told that wi-fi was available for a small fee during our flight. How cool would that be? I could browse my email on my laptop, send out some messages bragging of my ability to do this over social networks, check out what my friends were up to, and maybe even get some research done for a tech article I was writing. With a great degree of excitement, I connected to the wi-fi network and began to sign up process using my web browser. And then, at the end of the page, I found every Braille and screen access software user's least favorite part of using registering for services online: a CAPTCHA.

What do you think?

Blog Date: 
Monday, October 15, 2012

by Clara Van Gerven


The International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind has long been the quiet mainstay of the Access Technology team, the mighty giant quietly chattering away behind my office. This year, as we put the finishing touches to the updates (the new computers, the new embossing area) we want to put the IBTC in the spotlight, and we want to invite you to visit, and to share what you’ve learned from the IBTC and how it’s helped you. So many feet have come through the IBTC – we’d like to hear some of your voices. Please email the editor about your experience, stories and anecdotes about the IBTC at, and we’ll share some of your stories on our new IBTC site.

Thank you!

E- text pilot

Blog Date: 
Friday, October 5, 2012

By Clara Van Gerven


Recently, Dr. Maurer and Anne Taylor were interviewed about some of the e-text pilots going on in higher education, and the NFB’s reaction to the accessibility barriers in them. The article is up at Campus Technology and is a fascinating read, looking at both sides of the story. You can find it at

Tactile Graphics Conference

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dear readers,

We’re very, very excited about our inaugural Tactile Graphics conference – I may have mentioned that before. It’s an impressive line-up of speakers, and the level of enthusiasm (and number of submissions!) has been very high. Due to some unforeseen logistical issues, we are having to move the dates – the new date is April 12-13. Other than that, the agenda looks like it will stay mostly as it is, thanks to the forbearance of our rather splendid speakers. If you have a chance to attend, it will be well worth your while – and the conference is free!

For more information, check

iOS 6 – The First Three Days. (With Commentary from the Twitterverse)

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

By Amy Mason

iOS 6 arrived on the scene Wednesday for all of us who were not privileged enough to be developers or beta testers. According to Apple there are more than 200 new features. (This seems to be their magic number by the way, because I am certain that Mountain Lion, and iOS 5 also came with more than 200 improvements, but I digress.)
This cannot be an “exhaustive” review.  As previously noted, 200+ new features, but let’s take a look at the upgrade experience, and what we’ve gotten to play with so far.  I’m certain that there will be more information to come from all quarters (including us) in the next few weeks, but this review should highlight some of the most visible new features of iOS 6, specifically from the point of view of a VoiceOver user. 

What's New in Accessibility with iOS 6

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

by Scott Davert
As with the previous release of a major iOS upgrade (from version 4 to 5), there are many enhancements to iOS 6 not directly related to accessibility. In this release, they include FaceTime over cellular networks, a redesigned App Store, a revamped settings menu, direct Facebook integration, a Do Not Disturb feature, among many others. Please see the link at the end of this article for a list from Apple about changes not directly related to accessibility. To list and discuss all new features which do not pertain to accessibility is beyond the scope of this article. Rather, this is to specifically focus on changes with respect to the different options available from an accessibility standpoint.

Google’s New YouTube App for iOS: Good, Bad and Ugly, All at Once

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

By Amy Mason


At the beginning of August, beta testers began to announce to the internet at large that the YouTube application had been removed from their devices when they installed the fourth beta of the upcoming iOS 6. Shortly after these discoveries were made public, Apple announced that its licensing relationship with YouTube had ended, so the built-in YouTube app would not be included in the new version of the operating system.  This brief article from Mac Rumors ( sums up the major points of the story, and finishes with a rather interesting quote which was passed along by folks from YouTube, that reads: “We are working with Apple to make sure we have the best possible YouTube experience for iOS users.”

The 99 dollar question: a Review of the Humanware Communicator App

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

By Scott Davert

For quite some time, deaf-blind users of iDevices have been able to use face to face communication with the public through the notes app. This consists typically of an iDevice (iPod, iPad, or iPhone) paired with a Braille display and Bluetooth keyboard. The deaf-blind person can then type using the Braille input keys on their display, while the sighted and hearing person types on the Bluetooth keyboard. All text shows up on both the Braille display and the screen of the iDevice. Now, there is another option on the market geared toward this specific purpose.

Amazon's new Kindles

Blog Date: 
Thursday, September 6, 2012

by Clara Van Gerven